UFC: Gaethje Believes McGregor Will Have Confidence To Fight Him Now
There was a lot of talk going into UFC 246 that Conor McGregor chose the easier option for his return, picking ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone over Justin Gaethje. Not least from Gaethje himself.
While McGregor vs ‘Cowboy’ was a real fan favourite fight on paper, when you remember that Gaethje knocked out Cerrone in the very first round just last September, he makes a good point.
Although he didn’t get to welcome McGregor back to the Octagon, Gaethje’s name is in the conversation for who the Irishman’s next opponent should be. Speaking on the Punchlines Podcast (as transcribed by MMA Junkie), the 31 year old said that he probably would have a better chance of getting the Conor fight, if he had have turned up at UFC 246 and made a scene. But hoped that his recent knockout streak would be enough.
“For me, I hope knocking people out is my ‘something special,’ because I can’t sell myself, per se, and become a different person on camera and be a different person off camera. It takes a lot of intelligence to be able to do something like that, for one. To be able to keep that act up is going to take a lot of time and energy and a lot of concentration away from what I want to do.
“I think it could hurt me in the long run, just not wanting to take that route. I could have been [at UFC 246]. I could have been front row. I could have made a scene, but maybe I’ll miss an opportunity because I wasn’t there.”
Gaethje again called out McGregor for taking the easier option for his comeback fight at UFC 246.
“I think it was an (expletive) move that he took it, and that’s just coming from a straight competitor because – he’s coming off of losses, too, and that’s his argument when you say hey you’re going to fight someone coming off losses, but he’s talking about title contender, title contention or title shots, and you can’t fight him (‘Cowboy’).”
Having faced ‘Cowboy’ in his last fight, Gaethje thinks some fans will accuse him of being a hypocrite. However, ‘The Highlight’ stated that Cerrone was his only option at the time and that McGregor could have picked more challenging opponents.
“People are going to say you’re saying it was a (expletive) move, so you’re pretty much saying you’re an (expletive) for taking that fight [with ‘Cowboy’], but it was a whole set of different circumstances at that time.
“That wasn’t the case for Conor. I was there, I was ready, and I could have fought last night, and he didn’t take that, so the circumstances are different, and the argument isn’t valid.”
After losing two of his first three fights in the UFC. Gaethje has finished all of his last three opponents spectacularly in the first round. Which has put him back in the title talk ‘conversation’.
“I’m not necessarily being overlooked. I’m in the conversation. I lost two times not that long ago, and unfortunately that set me back, and that allows these people to have an argument or a case when it comes to the argument or it comes to this circumstance.”
Although Gaethje accused McGregor of ducking him in his comeback fight, he believes that the former UFC two division champion would have gained the confidence from his win over ‘Cowboy’ at UFC 246, needed to face him inside the Octagon.
“Ultimately that dude (McGregor) makes his own decisions, and I think he has more confidence now. He needed a win. Yeah, I think he’ll fight me now.”
And it’s not only Gaethje calling for a him to fight McGregor next. Conor’s coach John Kavanagh told Ariel Helwani on Monday that Justin would be his first choice for his man’s next opponent.
“Justin Gaethje at 170 [pounds]. That would be my personal preference, because he’s another lightweight. Neither of them have to cut weight and the goal, I’ll be careful with my words here, the kind of vision is to get that 155-pound belt back, so it’s a step towards that.”
Gaethje and Kavanagh may need to convince Dana White though. During the UFC 246 post fight press conference, the UFC president stated that McGregor will challenge the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 next. Adding that he needs to have a sit down talk with Justin.
With McGregor saying he doesn’t want to wait for the winner however, perhaps a fight with Gaethje would be the perfect option. It’s debatable whether Conor would want to fight in a co-main event but if you put him against Justin on the UFC 249 card, you would also have a backup, should anything happen to Khabib or Tony.
Would you like to see Justin Gaethje vs Conor McGregor?